Should you outsource SEO or become an SEO reseller for a white label SEO program? This is the question of the day. And the answer, as always, depends on a series of other questions and circumstances pertaining to your business. Here is how you approach this one:
First, is your decision to outsource SEO a solid one? By this I mean, are you on the edge or clear in your mind that search engine optimization is not a core competency. Some ways to clarify this are by asking the following questions: Am I happy with my own search engine rankings? If you are, and you did all the work yourself, you are probably not a good candidate for SEO outsourcing. But if, on the other hand, you look at your search engine rankings and say "we really should be giving that SEO thing more attention" - my guess is that it is not a core competency. No shame in that. After all, we all learned in the 90's that outsourcing is a great thing. We can't all be good at everything now can we.
So if you have determined that it might be a good idea to outsource SEO, you now need to pick your flavor. There are several popular methods for outsourcing, in any industry. One popular approach is to use a white label SEO program (also called private label SEO). Here, you are actually selling the product under your own logo. But you don't really do the fulfillment in-house. This is the portion of SEO that your outsource to another company that specializes in these activities. The business case here is the same as always, economies of scale, technology investment, focus. The SEO outsourcing company will have all those qualities (if you select them correctly) because all they do is search engine optimization.
The other alternative is to outsource SEO and let the customer know that it is a sub-contractor that is doing the optimization. This will turn out to be more of a referral partnership. As such, your two organizations will not need to be a tightly coordinated. This has some advantages. However, the serious disadvantage to this SEO outsourcing approach is that the client can fire you and keep the search engine optimization team. Most companies I talk to don't like the idea of losing control of the customer relationship. So for them, a private label SEO approach (i.e., white label SEO) is the better. Examples of this are web design companies and agencies. Consultants, the other hand, seem to be okay making referrals and keeping things at an arms' length. This makes some sense. They don't want to be on the hook if things don't go well.
Which ever way you ultimately decide to go, be clear on if you want to outsource SEO before you head into your search. You don't want to use your partner search as a values clarification exercise. We all know from business 101, that clear objectives create good projects. So if you decide that outsourcing SEO is right for your organization due to financial constraints, focus, economy of scale or plain old interest (or lack there-of) - draw out your criteria for selecting an outsourcing partner and start your search.